tv Washington Journal David Hawkings Discusses Congressional Pay and Benefits CSPAN July 25, 2017 9:03am-9:34am EDT
were being ordered to attack positions that were held overwhelmingly superior enemy forces in entrenched positions. >> sunday night, 8 eastern on c-span's q&a. >> sunday night on afterwards, democratic congressman loro talks about efforts to protect social necessary her book "the least among us, waging the vulnerable."e >> when social security reached had ronald oint, we o'neal who came together and acted and the social acted to make security solvent into the future. of this, mending of ands about social security and being insolvent can be solved cap.iately by lifting the
>> watch afterwards sunday night at 9 eastern on c-span 2 book t.v. >> "washington journal" continues. back david hawkings is with us on the "washington journal," of course senior resident oll call, everything st congress. we should say this topic storms chafis making a pitch before he left congress for a big pay raise for members. we get to that pitch, remind us what congress members ake now, what the general benefits are for a member of congress. guest: sure. of base salary for a member congress, the pace salary is $174,000 a year. been that way for almost 2009, was s, since when that number was reached. he way the law is supposed to
work, congress enacted a law in he 1990s to say the congressional salary would increase by the cost of living every year unless congress voted increase.hat and every year since 2009, actually as done so, the bill, the appropriations bill the house will vote on this it again for ck another year. $174, only exceptions are the -- two majority leaders and wo minority leaders make i think 193 and the speaker of the house makes $223. that, they do get federal employee healthcare, play like employees, i think 78% is paid for by the rest by t, 20 -- the them. they are eligible for pension if they stick around, if they are and serve more than five years and become a certain age. office budget an that allows them to travel back and forth to their districts and
staff, but not do anything to benefit them. they can make extra money, i $28,000 a year in extra income, but the way they can do that is very limited. they can't practice law, they can't be architects or do their own professions. they can write books, they can't give speeches, for example, the very tight. it's writing things and practicing medicine, actually. making extra cash each year, how many members of congress, about what percentage that, take it sxup try to make xrat money? a small number. it was very important to a couple of physicians in notably tom t coburn, from oklahoma, he said quit the ctually senate if he couldn't continue to practice medicine. they made a carve-out for him. a couple practice medicine, some write books, for example, al ranken, democrat from minnesota, has a book out, he up to ll able to make
$28,000 per year in royalty from the book. royalties e defer until after he leaves congress? what if the book sells more than $28,000? guest: i don't know, my guess is he and his agent worked out some way to park that income, they can't make it while in congress. back to health benefits, a question we get all the time, members of congress on affordable care act plans; correct? guest: members of congress and to be taff are supposed buying their coverage from the exchange, that was language that was written into the ffordable care act, it was insistence of senator chuck grassley, republican of iowa, members of ke sure congress have to live under obamacare, that is the rule. having been said, they are ligible for the same employer subsidiesie, from the federal government, that other federal receive.
host: let's go to the jason chafis pitch before he left ongress for a big increase, what was he seek something guest: he wasn't seeking salary increase, but a housing llowance of $30,000, which sounds like a lot of money and it is, except i think we both an washington, d.c. is expensive place to live. plenty to get e yourself a place in washington. he was saying, this was me, i describe as nixon goes to china moment. chaffitz, had been in avatar outside of washington, too many benefits for congress culture and was a caucus member of the that lived in his office the entire time he was in boasted he went through three different beds, air mattress, cot and got bed.lf a big host: there was a picture of the bed when he was leaving -- that is right.
he is one of several dozen members of congress who live in we don't have an exact count o. his way out the door, he says, this is silly way do it, we are losing good people who can't afford to both their home districts and raise their families and pay for house backe on their home and live in d.c., there should be a housing subsidy. it received by his members? silence, didn't get a vote or hearing. there was proposal by another out the door, ay said,oran of virginia, who across the river in the suburbs, said membersng and should get $25 a day per diemfor and any if ses, if they live more than 50 miles from d.c., he wouldn't have it.lified for that got as far as vote in the appropriations committee and it was defeated.
members are not in any position right now to do anything that ould be perceived as even remotely seen as feathering heir own nest when their approval rate suggest as low as it is. i would argue and i did in this column that i wrote, over time, will lose good people who are just simply cannot afford to and my own view, they demean themselves by sleep is a g their offices, it self-defeating thing, the more they look like they don't value institution to which they belong, the more constituents might agree with them. host: we wonder if our viewers agree, today. the phone line is open to talk david hawkings, if you have questions about members, benefits and salary, about the members, raise for raise that looks like it will not happen, but at least the put out there. democrats, 202-748-8000. republicans, 202-748-8001. independents, 202-748-8002. david hawkings with us for the
25 minutes. start in center, alabama, larry, ahead.r republicans, go caller: yeah, i just like to know how come they can't live $170-something thousand a we have to live off about $30,000 a year because we of living for t social security and cost of living for veterans? guest: you know, it is a great i stion, it is very -- when get to travel around the country, i realize how many are struggling to get by on way less than a member of congress. irst thing i would note is members of congress, $174,000 is this up, looked bureau of labor statistic says on par with what the typical the united s in states. they are not like hedge fund anagers or wall street barons making $174, but $174 is a lot of money and a lot of money in a
lot of parts of the country. what is different, a member of be in s is required to 100 ington for more than nights a year and try to have a life back in your home district have a home state and place to live up here is a big expense. up the other day, zillow, the real estate website, were only 16 one bedroom or studio apartments anywhere capitol hill for less than for rent and only also on capitol hill, less than for sale houses listed for less than three quarters of a million dollars. place to n expensive live. host: when members travel back nd forth each week tcan be expensive, especially flight to the other side of the country, for?does that get paid out of the member office budget? guest: it is. is given what they
call the acronym you hear members mra, members representatival allowance for members, it is almost identical with two slight tweaks, they get depends how far away they live from washington, how far their districts are from washington, they get a little more for travel. or mber who lives in alaska seattle or tucson gets more money for travel than somebody lives in philadelphia or atlanta. also get a little more money if they represent a city because the price of office rent cities than rural areas, they get a little more to pay the rent on their district offices. that money, the travel monsesupposed to be plenty for per year, e 30 trips is what they estimate. host: two other stats from david roll call, this is longest period without a raise 1965 and ade ending in adjusting for inflation, the buying power of member salary is
any time since the late 1980s. we're talking about it this morning with david hawkings. john sein tyler, texas, an independent, johnny, good morning. morning.good yes, i had a question, was this sted in listening to gentleman because i get regular congressman, who is a republican, of course, if is likely texas, it for all have a republican representative. i call myself an independent, would say i guess you . am a blue-dog democrat i believe in work, paying your on s and you don't live benefits. i do now, but i was just wondering if it was true, i hear the so-called what he calls a town
meeting, by calling people lines, which hone i do, and i listen to everything say and you can only vote on certain things. of different uestions and if -- all geared namely toward their agenda and -- ost: johnny, would you prefer the teletown halls or in-person town hall? he er: well, i don't think would come to an in-person, i don't really know. congressman s your from tyler, texas? caller: hang on just a second there l tell you, been quite a while. profit, him the clang that is his nickname. host: would you say you get the referring to fundraising calls or teletown halls? caller: teletown hall. ahead.avid hawkings, go
guest: teletown hall is a new wave in this country, been seven years, ix, member of congress think that it is -- works to their benefit for reasons, one of which i think you were getting at, to ny, the people who tend call in to town halls, many of congressmen's friends or allies. for whatever reason, it seems who tend to call in are going to be more friendly o the member than sometimes at in-person town halls, where since lly we've seen january, in-person town halls ven in reliably republican conservative districts have been populated by angry democratic voters hillary clinton anti-donald trump voters, so teletown hall is a safer venue a lot of members of congress. host: johnny, quick research louie gomert,er, is that your congressman?
yes, my mind failed me. host: we'll see you down the road. in cheryl ford, south carolina. ahead.r republicans, go caller: thank you for having me on. don't care if they get benefits, you work for it, get benefits. i'll be 65 this year, i have since i was 12 years old, on the books, pay my taxes. i got hurt on the job -- hello. host: we're listening. caller: i got hurt on the job, disability, you know what kills me? working, i had dental. had i was working, i eyeglasses and you can say i can get benefits now if i want to $600 a month, how do i do that on my income? income is $1200, hito settle my complication, i was of new york e out because of high taxes, because of doctor bills and everything. now.e in north carolina nobody cares about the seniors. i think if you put that much
and work your life and paid your taxes, we shouldn't have to get stuck dental.or i might be like $15 or $20, i dentist, i lost my bottom teeth. you know what it cost out of my $1200.et over ost: i take it you don't have sympathy for a raise for member of congress? i am : you know what, pretty sure these guys work hard. i see how the media tears all the time and i continuing is disgusting, okay thas to come to an end. respect for the people working in the office. host: thanks for the call. guest: that is an unusual sentiment in this country. members val rating of of congress is -- has been below believe in every gallup organization, i believe approval for members of congress has -- might have crested or hit 20% once, but going back five or
years hasn't been above 20%, low as 12%. system unusual sentiment of i think if members congress heard a lot, they would need to hear a lot more of that before they feel willing to allow rates to go in effect. they are d before, if silent on this matter, the raise does happen. a result of ally huge scuffle in congress in the 1980s, where the speaker of the house tried to essentially of night ande dead in a sneaky way, jim wright, arrange for texas, a large percentage overnight raise for members of congress. in his face, became a big national story. after this happened, what instead of having this be up to us to look like we with a hering our nest it raise, let's have
automatic tied to inflation for private sector workers, whatever the average increase is for private sector workers, we'll every year unless we vote affirmatively to deny it ourselves. that is what they felt political pressure to do and done every and on course to do tomorrow or the next day when this big takes up spending bill. host: to morrison, tennessee, molly is a democrat. good morning. caller: yes, good morning. i'm trying to get a better nderstanding about what congressmen pay for their health insurance. if i just look at the federal employee, what they pay, i should get a good idea of what pay, is that en correct? guest: yes, ma'am, i believe it the employer share, federal government share is 78%, i 78 to 22, maybe -- in of the share of the premiums paid for by the federal
government. got you. caller: i would really like to know in dollars, i'll look at employee what they pay and maybe i can have an understanding in dollars what congressmen pay? guest: it will be different, depending on members have to buy exchange, obamacare exchange, they have some choices, they have choice of different plans, depends plan or how all encompassing a plan they buy, more and the government will pay more. host: mille, asheville, north carolina, independent, go ahead. caller: yes; you know, i worked my life from 16 and my social security now leaves me and then w poverty they do medicare, which my first paycheck when i was my first job
that what was taken out gives me another $1200 below poverty, excuse me if i don't boohoo about, you know, your problems.g here is a suggestion. tories for members and lock them in for the evening be so n maybe they won't uncivil to each other. a suggestion?r guest: mille, i think that is a suggestion.resting it's not00ue are not the first one to make it. believe it orlly, not, a dorm available on the house side of capitol hill. used to be a program where teenagers would come and be a few months at a time. they are younger kids, you might ine seen if you watch c-span the blazers and gray flannel pants who would scurry around
messages back and forth and copies of bills, that with on as done away the house side. there are still pages in the senate. -- when the kids were live nothing washington, classrooms, dorm and they had to take classes, there is a page dorm available and what ave suggested just you -- if members could rent darmatory, or be given free rooms in the dorm, -- counter v d valing idea to that is they locked in the room, they probably just wouldn't go and watch t.v. and read up. it might become a little bit of like a frat house than a has dormatorythat, idea been set aside, last thing is a frat house on its hands. nebraska, da, omaha,
republican, good morning. caller: hi, good morning, sorry i had the show recorded and i heard the first the congress and and hing about healthcare the raise they wanted. have leukemia and i am addicted to c-span and i watch the democrats were pushing o get a pay raise in the house and the republicans stopped them. question, isnother that my recollection, am i right on that? there have been some years where it has become a partisan spat. this does not seem to be one of those years. has e years where congress quietly agreed to allow pay in, one d if you tuned more time, super quickly, the pay raise is supposed to be
know, ic cola, you inflationary adjustment in their pay unless congress takes vote to deny the raise, which is what congress has done for the last nine years straight, since 2009 n. years in which happen,owed the race to there has been a quiet agreement among leaders, cannot make this football, nobody from either side would criticize anybody else for taking the raise. that dynamic just hasn't played out in almost a decade now agreed they have all that politically it makes sense to deny themselves this raise. had gone into effect every year since they pay wouldem, member's instead about $205,000 of $174. host: did you have a follow-up question? caller: i did. been seeing that republicans going out and hey're saying that obama and the leadership made arrangements o make sure they get subsidy
for health insurance and they're asking president trump to take members from all the so they can fill the hurt the rest of us are feeling. i was just wondering if you have heard anything about president trump is going to do that? host: brenda, to your point, there was a column in the "wall yesterday about this topic. heather higgins saying doing congress' hand on healthcare, over to david hawkings to explain. column, what you're talking about, brenda and what this column talks about, after obamacare was nacted, there were regulations put in place to carry it out at the federal level and kong level.sional at that point, the regulators i ided to allow this subsidy described a few minutes ago, like somebody with regular job would get r company employer provided healthcare, age and pays percent
employee pays smaller percentage. regulators put in place for congress. the idual offices, right, regulatory some call it a trick, each individual member of congress is his own -- his or her own small business, a certain ring of truth, while congress is enormous institution, it is also that members run their offices somewhat like their own little little -- large amount of personnel practice, pay scale within range, so egulator said each member of congress can be treated like a small business and employees can get these benefits. has power as p executive to rollback are right, and you doing so would change the political calculus on members forward. host: that is what heather higgins was advocating for in
"wall street journal," c.e.o. of women's voice, runs coalition, if rm you want to see the column yesterday's "wall street journal." calls.r a couple more chris is wait nothing michigan, line for independents. chris, good morning. morning.ood thank you for taking my call, c-span, watch everyday. appreciate that. caller: i kind of agree with the other callers, i've been working 12 years old, i'm 63 now and i get pretty upset when these hearings, it seems like they are all grandstanding, off the pay topic, but seems like nothing ever happens to any of the members, like -- or even he cabinet members, you know, if there are like what's his contempt of s congress, nothing ever happened, fact, almost n brought down the entire economy, them.ng ever happened to
they protect each other. what gets me in my crawl, number a lot of have to have money in order to get elected, it's like a click. get elected, obviously you have citizens united. along with republican, they'll never pass congressional or amendment to constitution because it is like cutting their own throat. let's say you get one term in congress or senate, have you a pension for the rest of life, guaranteed pension. and where we are in that scheme, know, we have to have a 401(k), hardly any company nowadays offers a pension, xcept if you're a state, local or federal employee so that is basically my comment. go, let is, before you me ask you. coming back to what we've been talking about, do you think that if the american public were to pay members of congress more, less t would make them
beholden to special interest you're worried about? that : i don't know if would work or not because basically the way i read it, you go in, let's say that you ave $100,000 in your pocket when you become elected, when ou walk you'll be a multi millionaire. then you watch different and havein the morning you congressmen or congresswoman that have been out of office for 15 years and still getting paid country and nd the whenever and get all expenses have you.hat you're set for life. if you have any needs or phone, , pick up the call up whoever is in office at heythis, is ay, so-and-so, i need something done over here and pretty much it is to work because it is a click. host: chris, thanks for picking
calling us, a d minute or two left with david hawkings. we didn't really touch on pension, the last minute. guest: you made a bunch of biggest ng points, the pension of all a former member of congress gets is network into entered.y they get a -- being former of er is entree to a lot good business opportunities, you get your calls returned, that after you u money leave. strictly as to pension, i don't think it is quite the way you describe. if you have served in congress for five years, that is one full in senate or getting elected to three terms in the pensionfore you get any and the pension goes up, depending how long you stay, it increase somewhat, you don't get pension until you are t least 62 or if you are elected to congress when super young, you can get it earlier. of r can be more than 80% salary that you made while in congress. you are not guaranteed being a
millionaire. but you have lots of opportunities to make money. ost: the story at roll call, congressional pay and benefits at stand still with a cost, if david t to read it, by hawkings. appreciate your time on "washington journal," come back again. geekts thank you so much. next, we'll end our discussion talking about healthcare and motion to proceed that is expected to be voted on today in the senate. your message to the senate. line for democrats, republicans and independents are on your screen. start call nothing now, we'll be right back. >> sunday night on afterwards, connecticut democratic congresswoman rosa delaura talks least amongok, "the us, waging the battle for the vulnerable." social security reached ts lowest point, we had ronald reagan and tip o'neal who came
acted and the congress acted to make social into the olvent future. hands this ringing of bout social security and insolvent can be solved immediately by lifting the cap. afterwards sunday night 9 eastern on c-span 2's book t.v. unfoldsn, where history daily. a 1979, c-span was created as public service by america's cable television companies and by your t to you today cable or satellite provider. >> "washington journal" continues.